Bless Her Heart
By Sally Kilpatrick
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Reviewed by Janga
Reviewed by Janga
Posey Adams Love has spent much of her life proving to herself and to the people of Ellery, Tennessee, that she is a good girl, one worthy of their respect and not just “the daughter of a legendary hippie girl who ran away from home and came back pregnant.” Her life hasn’t turned out exactly the way she planned. At thirty-two, she had planned to be the mother of two children with ten years of teaching to her credit. Instead she is the receptionist at the church headed by her husband, who left First Baptist because it was too liberal for his taste. Five years ago, he founded Love Ministries with its emphasis on the husband’s unassailable position as head of his household and the wife’s duty to submit. Posey has been a dutiful wife in the office, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom. If she has her small rebellions, no one else knows about them.
The life Posey has valued for its stability vanishes one day when Chad leaves town with another woman, Posey’s car is repossessed, her house has been sold, and she is without a job. Forced to return to her grandmother’s house and to work in her mother’s yoga and natural foods store, Posey makes a decided turn—no more good girl. She gives up church for Lent and sets out to develop an up-close and personal relationship with each of the deadly sins. Along the way, she finds herself again, and she also finds a new closeness with her mother, her siblings, her best friend, and a sexy piano tuner who has been increasing her heartbeat since eighth grade. And she is leaving the good people of Ellery too shocked at her behavior to utter a single, pitying “Bless her heart.”
This is Kilpatrick's best since her debut--funny, sweet, honest, irreverent, inspiring and on-the-mark Southern. I loved it! I’m not a huge fan of first-person point of view in fiction, but sometimes it works wonderfully. Such is the case here. Hearing the story in Posey’s voice makes the story funnier and more poignant, and it makes it so easy to love Posey, fabulous and flawed as she is.
Chad is vermin, of course, and he is rendered even more repulsive because he is so close to some real-life characters I have known. The other characters, like Posey, are richly dimensional. Posey’s mother is wise and vulnerable, and her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s inspires a mix of laughter and sorrow that will be familiar to those who have watched loved ones move through the stages of that disease. Rain, Posey’s half-sister, is as interesting, as complex, and as lovable as Posey herself. And former roadie, current piano tuner John is sweet and flawed and complicated.
Kilpatrick’s debut novel, The Happy Hour Choir, is still one of my favorite books. Although I have enjoyed her other novels, none has quite reached that I-want-to-read-this-again-and-again response that the first one did. I rank Bless Her Heart right up there with The Happy Hour Choir. It is a little bit Flannery O’Connor, a little bit Fannie Flagg, but mostly delightfully and originally Sally Kilpatrick. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the author revisits these characters.
I highly recommend this one for readers who like Southern fiction or women’s fiction that evokes laughter and tears. Romance readers should be aware that this is not a romance. It has a strong romantic element, but the conclusion is more open-ended than the conventional HEA.